There was a time when Jaguar was seen as an old man’s car and a rich, old man’s car at that. Time moves on and the XF, in particular, was instrumental in changing people’s perception of Jaguar.
When launched, this mid-range executive car was as modern as anything else on the market. With great handling and a sublime interior, it quickly became a real alternative to the established German executive alternatives.
I’ve already tested the 3.0 litre, with its creamy V6 diesel, but lately, this model has been joined by a more affordable 2.2 litre unit. Given our car tax rates, this version will be the more practical option for most buyers.
Straight away, what strikes is the interior, which conspires to be both comfortable, luxurious and elegant in a way only Jaguars seem to manage. This being the base model, I was slightly disappointed to find that the seats were only half-leather, a decision that seems surprising, given that rivals Mercedes and BMW offer full leather as standard on their equivalent models.
Nevertheless, there’s a great feel to the interior, with nice materials, classy instrumentation and at night, soft ambient lighting, which is very restful.
Keyless start is standard, so all you have to do is hit the start button and watch the XF’s party trick. Instead of a gear lever, the car uses an aluminium knob, which rises out of the central console while the air vents simultaneously open. It doesn’t sound much but it’s great fun to watch and you never tire of it.
The gearbox is an advanced eight-speed unit and contributes to the Jaguar’s excellent fuel economy. Gearchanges are seamless and the car always seems to be in the right ratio for the job. Stop start is also standard and the system is quick to respond.
On the move, it’s evident that Jaguar understands how a chassis should perform. The car responds eagerly to driver input, almost like a sports car. At the same time, the ride is cosseting, as it should be in a Jaguar. The XF has one of the best ride/handling compromises I’ve ever driven.
I have to say, though, that I was disappointed with outright performance. Initially, I thought my test car had the 200 bhp engine, but in fact I had the less powerful 163 bhp version. There’s a big difference in performance between the two and on further investigation, it seems that for Ireland, 163 bhp is now the standard, with the more powerful unit available to order.
Given that both engines are in Band C and the price difference between them is only around €1,000, I can’t see why the 200 bhp isn’t being pushed more forcefully. The XF really benefits from the extra power and it moves the car along the way a Jaguar should. I’d advise anyone to find the extra for the more powerful engine.
The range starts off with the SE model, which is generously equipped with that eight speed auto, 17” alloy wheels, part leather upholstery, dual zone climate control, 7” colour touch screen, Bi Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights, auto headlamps with washers, rain sensing windscreen wipers, keyless start, rear parking sensors, three spoke leather multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth and a 400 watt sound system with USB and iPod connectivity.
Luxury, Premium Luxury and Portfolio trim levels are also on offer, but really, you need no more than the SE, which starts at a very reasonable €44,820, although as I said earlier, I’d go for the more powerful engine at €45,735. Incidentally, a Sportbrake version of the XF has just been launched.
While the XF may not be quite as efficient or economical as some of its obvious rivals, to be honest, there’s not much in it and the Jaguar remains a seductive proposition. For anyone in the lucky position of shopping for an executive car, it would be hard to say no to the leaping cat.